What Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Beginners?

Buying Guide

Nike offers several running shoes for beginners. Hit the trail, track or road with these top picks recommended by experts.

Last updated: 14 July 2022
5 min read
The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes

From hydration packs to sweat-wicking T-shirts and lightweight hats, there's plenty of specialised gear for runners. But no item is more important than the shoes you wear.

"Running shoes can make or break your training", said Amy Morris, RRCA-certified running coach and head of personal training at CrossTown Fitness in Chicago. "The right choice can provide cushioning and shock absorption, which both reduce fatigue overall. That's particularly important for beginners who will be spending more time playing around with pace, distance and stride".

Ideally, it's helpful to visit a running shop, she said. That's because you can try on a number of options and a professional can review your gait while you jog on a treadmill. But if you don't have a shop nearby or you just want to shop from the comfort of home, you can still pick out one of Nike's running shoes for beginners online.

First, Assess What Type of Arch You Have

If you're running on fairly standard terrain such as a road, track or even a treadmill, your arches will probably be more of a factor, according to Jason Kart, DPT and owner of Core Physical Therapy in Chicago. He said that if you're running in shoes that don't properly support your arches, it could result in foot pain, shin splints and tightness in the IT band, which runs alongside your quads.

Here's a quick way to figure out your arches: wet your feet, then stand on a blank piece of paper or cardboard and step away to see your footprint. If you're seeing mostly toes and the balls of your feet, with a minimal line back to the heel, that could mean you have high arches. If you see your entire foot imprint, that's an indication of flat feet. And if you see about half of the middle portion or arch of your footprint—with a curve along the arch—that's considered a normal arch.

To get started and find the best Nike running shoes for beginners, Kart suggested test-driving one of these models.

If You Have High Arches and Are Planning To Run Your First 5K

The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

"High arches make the transition from rear foot to forefoot more stressful since the arch will not descend and dampen force", said Kart. "You would want to find a more cushioned shoe with arch support to lessen the stress on the forefoot".

(Related: Best Nike Running Shoes for High Arches)

If You Have Flat or Low Arches and Are Training for Your First Mile

The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes
The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes

2. Nike React Phantom Run Flyknit

"This arch type is too accepting of force and will lose mechanical advantage in the transition from rear foot to forefoot", Kart said. "I suggest a stability shoe to keep the arch supported".

If You Have Normal Arches and Are Working on Building Your Endurance

The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes
The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes

2. Nike Zoom Fly

"You have more options in this scenario, and it comes down to what kind of ride you want", Kart said. "Body type or weight may also be a factor. If you are looking for distance and are on the lighter side, a shoe with a higher energy return would be beneficial. This shoe will have some recoil to push you along".

He added that if your bodyweight leans towards the heavier side, you may want to opt for a neutral shoe that "has more cushioning to absorb some of the increased force when hitting the ground".

If You Just Want To Get Outside or Do a Trail Run for Fun

The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes
The Best Beginner Nike Running Shoes

2. Nike Pegasus Trail

"Using some of the previously mentioned scenarios as a guide based on foot type, trail running comes down to grip on the trail, protection and stiffness", Kart said. "Running on variable terrain means changing stride length and landing on uneven surfaces. A slightly stiffer shoe will help you land where you think is optimal and maintain some foot control".

Next, Identify the Terrain You Want To Run On

Where you plan to run can be an important part of shoe choice because different terrain creates distinctive demands on your shoes, Morris said. Most notably, if you favour a rocky or muddy hiking trail for you runs, you'll need much more traction and ankle support.

If you plan on doing treadmill or road runs, those factors won't be as much of an issue, although most running tracks have enough give in the surface to accommodate lighter shoes, which can help with speed, Morris said.

If possible, get shoes that are specifically designed just for running—keep your cross-training shoes in your gym bag when you plan to go for a run.

"The kind of support your feet need when you run is different from what you need when you're doing exercises like lunges and star jumps", Kart said. That's because running shoes are constructed to absorb impact, not to create stability in side-to-side movement. Also, apart from trail-running shoes—which have too much traction for a gym session—, running shoes don't tend to have the kind of ankle support you need for multi-directional movement.

Another handy way to find the best shoes? Ask runners and read reviews, Morris suggested. She said runners have plenty of insights on how shoes perform and can also give you additional tips and tricks for running that ensure you won't be a beginner for long.

Words by Elizabeth Millard

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